Solar

GE To Close Delaware Solar Facility

GE Energy confirmed this week that it plans to close its 35-megawatt (MW) Glasgow, Delaware solar module production facility in the next nine months. The company said that the facility can no longer produce modules at a competitive price and that it will stop manufacturing its crystalline silicon modules in January.

All 85 of the plants employees will be let go with severance. GE said that it is exploring other alternatives but did not elaborate.

The closure of this plant follows BP’s announcement earlier this year that it would close it’s production facility in Maryland and move its operations abroad.

Other companies have made similar cost cutting moves this year as Evergreen Solar is moving its production to China to take advantage of cheaper manufacturing costs and Schott Solar is moving production from Massachusetts to New Mexico in order to have its facilities closer to the areas of demand in the U.S. These facilities were older and expensive to operate according to the companies.

The trend is not entirely to move out of North America however. Suntech has recently announced plans to locate a manufacturing facility in the U.S. and in the last two weeks, Sanyo has opened solar cell and modules facilities in Oregon and Monterrey, Mexico respectively.

Other solar manufacturers like SMA America and SolarWorld are expanding their presence in North America. SolarWorld is expanding operations in Oregon to produce 500 MW of modules a year and SMA announced in October that it plans to open a 1-gigawatt inverter production facility in Colorado.

The two seemingly competing trends are a sign of a growing industry trying to produce product as cheaply and as conveniently located as possible, and while Chinese manufacturing might be cheaper, the U.S. and Canadian markets are attractive because of their growth potential.